This is according to panellists at the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos at a session on Africa’s Next Billion.
With the continents population expected to rise to two billion by 2050, panellists agreed that the foundation for sustainable and inclusive growth for Africa needs to be laid now.
“We need jobs. Economic and social inclusion is a top priority. We create space for the private sector and it’s one of government’s responsibilities to distribute the fruits of growth,” said John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana.
“To build on the progress Africa has made so far, governments must continue to realize the democratic dividend of good governance, respect for human rights and rule of law.”
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria, added that political stability is needed first before Africa can move onto economic growth as well as addressing corruption within extractive industries, such as Nigeria’s oil sector.
“Before we could talk about economic growth, we needed political stability,” Another key to unlocking Africa’s huge potential is security. When addressing the issue of corruption in the extractive industries, in particular oil in Nigeria,” added Jonathan.
On the other hand, Aliko Dangote, president and chief executive officer of Dangote Group Nigeria, argued that foreign investors are too concerned about investing in Africa, especially during elections periods. He believes that no African government, regardless of who is in power, would be against receiving international investment.
“Today there is no government that will be against business, so go ahead and invest,” he urged.
Dangote believes that people underestimate Africa and that the continent has the potential of reaching a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 9 trillion US dollars by 2050.
“People always underestimate what Africa can be. By 2050, we will have a united Africa with one common market. Can you imagine if we had sufficient power? Our GDP would be US$ 9 trillion by 2050. It can happen,” he added.
Mahama however believes that intra-African trade is performing very poorly at a mere 11 per cent and that the continent’s infrastructure bottlenecks needs to be resolved.
“I feel ashamed that trade between our countries is only 11 per cent. That is unacceptable,” said Mahama.
Julian Roberts, group chief executive of Old Mutual United Kingdom, believes that Africa has the potential to increase intra-Africa trade to 80 per cent by 2050.
“Our target should be 80 per cent intra-Africa trade by 2050,” added Roberts.